Ballymena United 1
Glenavon 0
League (NIFL Premiership)


Ballymena United
1 - 0
Glenavon 

League (NIFL Premiership)
Tuesday, April 16th, 2024
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 841
7:45 PM Kick-off

Goalscorers
Calvin McCurry (8)
None.

Team Managers
Jim Ervin
Stephen McDonnell

Starting Eleven
1. Sean O'Neill
29. Sean Brown
39. Daithi McCallion
11. Steven McCullough
5. Scot Whiteside
35. Brendan Barr
28. Dylan Boyle
16. Fraser Taylor
7. Alex Gawne
36. Calvin McCurry
33. Noah Stewart
Mark Byrne .13
David Toure .5
Matthew Snoddy .7
Jack Malone .8
Peter Campbell .10
Niall Quinn .11
Daniel Wallace .23
Sean Ward .30
Len O'Sullivan .32
James Doona .39
Lido Lotefa .99

Bench
26. Sam Johnston
31. Jamie Robinson
41. James Hood
17. Andrew McGrory
4. Donal Rocks
21. Lewis Tennant
27. Jonathan McMurray
Joshua Gracey .41
Conor Kerr .2
Gavin Hodgins .9
Stephen Teggart .20
Jamie Doran .24
Darren Clarke .25
Robert Garrett .28

Substitutions
Jonathan McMurray for Noah Stewart (60)
Donal Rocks for Fraser Taylor (82)
Lewis Tennant for Calvin McCurry (82)
Jamie Robinson for Brendan Barr (90)
Jamie Doran for Lido Lotefa (61)
Stephen Teggart for David Toure (68)
Robert Garrett for Matthew Snoddy (68)
Gavin Hodgins for Len O'Sullivan (82)

Cautions
Jonathan McMurray (88)
Alex Gawne (88)
None.

Red Cards
Scot Whiteside (53)
Jack Malone (86)
Match Officials

Jamie Robinson (Referee)
Adam Jeffrey & Andrew Nethery (Assistants)
Tony Clarke (Fourth Official)





Match Report


Calvin McCurry's first half strike and a Sean O'Neill penalty save secured ten-man Ballymena United 11th spot in Sports Direct Premiership after a 1-0 win over ten-man Glenavon at The Showgrounds on Tuesday night.

After defeat to Carrick at the weekend left United still five points clear of bottom side Newry, Jim Ervin made two changes for the first post split game on Warden Street as Daithi McCallion replaced an injured Kym Nelson, and Johnny McMurray dropped to the bench for Noah Stewart.

The Braidmen would've hoped for a quick start in another key game in the race for survival, and they got just that before opening the scoring nine minutes in thanks to Calvin McCurry. A short corner was played to Fraser Taylor whose whipped ball into the box was headed goalwards by McCallion, and he found Calvin McCurry who thundered home a volley from six yards out to notch up a deserved first goal in sky blue.

Not content with settling for one, Ballymena continued on with real menace following the opener as two more opportunities came McCurry's way. First, he took down a long ball neatly but then fired straight at Mark Byrne on the edge of the box, before from another short corner a delightful back heel from Stewart left his strike partner with a huge chance at point blank range, but again he struck straight at Byrne who made a big save.

As the half went on, the Lurgan Blues were seeing plenty of the ball, though managing little with it, but thirty-five minutes in came their best chance when Niall Quinn took on his man down the left and beat him before firing a low ball across goal that somehow made its way to Peter Campbell at the back post, but he put wide a great chance. Just before half time, a similar incident occurred in the Glenavon box when Stewart broke down the left and fizzed a ball across that fell to Alex Gawne on the edge of the box, but he curled his effort over just over the crossbar.

At the end of the opening half, play was momentarily stopped to allow for attention to a medical emergency in the home end, with best wishes going to the person involved, as referee Jamie Robinson understandably brought a good half from Ballymena to a slightly premature end.

Ballymena surely would've expected more to come from Glenavon in the second half, and it was the visitors who made the better start, including James Doona seeing a rasping shot saved by O'Neill, before the Braidmen were reduced to ten men on fifty-four minutes. A long ball caught United out as it found Matthew Snoddy who went in on goal, only to be denied by a super last ditch Gawne block, but the ball fell to Lido Lotefa and his goal bound shot was blocked by Scot Whiteside. However, Jamie Robinson adjudged United's skipper to have made the block with his hand, much to the dismay of Whiteside and O'Neill, and their anger was compounded when Whiteside received a questionable red card. Campbell stepped up to try and draw Glenavon level, but he couldn't as O'Neill went the right way and made a massive stop to keep United's lead intact.

Predictably, with the man advantage the minutes that followed were all mostly Glenavon, who passed up some glaring opportunities. Jack Malone struck over from distance shortly after the penalty miss, before Len O'Sullivan split United's defence to find Stephen Teggart free in the box, but when he looked destined to score, he pulled a top drawer save out of O'Neill again.

Towards the final fifteen minutes United's defence continued to hold firm, but it should've been 1-1 when O'Sullivan sent a free header wide at close range and Sean Ward fired over from a corner, before for the second time this season in meetings between the sides, both were reduced to ten men. Donal Rocks had just been introduced for Ballymena, and one of his first pieces of action was to be caught late and high for Malone, who received a straight red card.

At ten vs ten for the final four minutes, and five more of added time, it was the away side who continued to dominate, but again guilt edge chances went as Gavin Hodgins headed a glorious chance wide, though it apparently took a nick on its way out, and from the resulting corner Danny Wallace nodded over, as a dogged and resolute United saw out a massive win and welcome clean sheet to secure 11th spot and all but relegate Newry, with a relegation play-off now almost certainly the outcome to follow.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (www.ballymenaunitedfc.com)



Squad Statistics (as at April 16th, 2024)


2023-2024 All Time
Age
Sean O'Neill (GK)36 38 - 101 -
Sean Brown19 13 - 13 -
Daithi McCallion19 9 - 9 -
Steven McCullough29 38224710
Scot Whiteside26 3411322
Brendan Barr22 8 - 45 -
Dylan Boyle22 31 - 31 -
Fraser Taylor21 394394
Alex Gawne22 223223
Calvin McCurry22 111111
Noah Stewart20 278278
Jamie Robinson (sub)22 11 - 11 -
Donal Rocks (sub)23 27 - 27 -
Lewis Tennant (sub)19 20 - 21 -
Jonathan McMurray (sub)29 28412636



League Table (as at April 16th, 2024)


Pld W D L Pts
1. Larne 36 26 8 2 86
2. Linfield 36 26 5 5 83
3. Cliftonville 36 22 5 9 71
4. Crusaders 36 18 7 11 61
5. Glentoran 36 16 9 11 57
6. Coleraine 36 12 10 14 46
7. Carrick 36 13 5 18 44
8. Loughgall 36 12 6 18 42
9. Dungannon 36 11 8 17 41
10. Glenavon 36 11 4 21 37
11. BALLYMENA 36 7 4 25 25
12. Newry 36 4 5 27 17